One of the leaders of the English musical renaissance of the twentieth century, Ralph Vaughan Williams lived a long life of great productivity. His work on behalf of English folksong was of great service to the nation and his belief that a composer should ‘make his art an expression of the whole life of the community’ may have surprised those who considered him very much his ‘own man’. There is indeed much that is paradoxical about this grand old man of English music, but there is no doubt about his musical integrity and achievement. Even though he wrote little for band there is no gainsaying the great musician’s imposing authority in the Prelude on Three Welsh Hymn Tunes
of 1954 which followed an earlier organ work based on similar material.
The three hymn tunes—Ebenezer, Calfaria and Hyfrydol—are cleverly united in a masterly texture that is entirely characteristic of Vaughan Williams, with its well-built contrasts and superbly judged tempo changes. It is hardly surprising that this work has enjoyed much popularity as a music festival piece.
from notes by Peter Lamb © 1988